Judge asked to show 'sympathy' for mother who took son into hiding to prevent him being treated for brain tumour

Sally Roberts sparked a nationwide search when she disappeared with seven-year-old Neon

A High Court judge has been asked to show sympathy towards a mother who took her son into hiding to prevent him having radiotherapy treatment for a brain tumour.

Sally Roberts sparked a nationwide search when she disappeared with seven-year-old Neon but her lawyers insisted that she believed she was acting in her son’s best interests.

“Much sympathy it is hoped will be felt for her overall position. The mother's position in this litigation...is principled, reasonable and in the best interests of Neon,” said Robert Tolson QC.

Ms Roberts, from Tiverton, was found safe and well with her son in Sussex. The New Zealander, who lives in Tiverton and is separated from Neon’s father Ben, told Mr Justice Bodey that she was sorry for going into hiding. “I very much apologise. I only want the best for my son,” she told the court.

And she said she was not a “bonkers mother”, saying that she feared that radiotherapy could do long-term harm to her “vibrant” son.

The High Court judge is being asked to decide whether it is in Neon’s best interests to undergo radiotherapy and chemotherapy - or only chemotherapy - following surgery on a cancerous brain tumour. Ms Roberts was in court for the start of the hearing.

Doctors say it is “clearly” in Neon’s best interests to have radiotherapy and chemotherapy. A lawyer representing health authorities treating him told the court that the “alternative is death”.

Mr Justice Bodey said Neon’s illness was the “stuff of every parent's nightmare”. He added that he would have to balance what treatment would achieve against the “downsides”.

Ms Roberts, 37, who is also known as Sally Leese, went missing earlier this week. Officers launched an urgent appeal and doctors said he was in need of urgent medical attention.

The alarm had been raised by Neon’s father, an IT consultant from Knightsbridge in west London. He said Ms Roberts wanted to do “everything she can and rely on natural remedies and things that are not too invasive, rather than radiotherapy and chemotherapy”.

He added: “She is worried about the damage that can be done. She wants him to be able to live a normal life.

“Personally, I want everything for him. I want to make sure he has everything available to him. I understand there are lots of things that can be done to minimise the after effects of radiotherapy, with various other pre- and post-treatments.

“All the evidence I have been presented with has told me he needs to have that therapy, but I am also aware there are side effects. It concerns me as well.”

In an earlier hearing, Mrs justice Hogg took the unusual step of allowing Neon’s identification. She said: “I have made an order permitting the identification of the child, Neon Luca Roberts, who is aged seven. It’s thought that he is need of urgent life-saving hospital treatment.

“He suffers from a brain tumour and has recently had surgery and the doctors responsible for his treatment believe he urgently needs radiotherapy.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee